I've always wondered where the ideas for scams originate. I am curious to know if it is out of a kind of greed for money plus a lack of empathy for fellow human beings, or if it is from a fear of failure combined with a feeling of having no other choice. I wonder if the people who create scams really understand that what they are doing is wrong, or if in some way, they think that the naysayers simply misunderstand.
Whatever the reasons are, the internet is rife with scams. There is an endless sea of them. The more I try to build my business and connect with other internet entrepreneurs, the more scams I find.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the majority of ‘business proposals' you can find on the internet, even the majority of ‘work from home' or ‘make money online' products are scams. If I soften the word to ‘misleading', then I would have no problem saying that 90% or more of products you find on the internet are misleading.
Cash Gifting on YouTube
Cash gifting is basically a pyramid scheme that attempts to be lawful by not selling anything, but giving money away as a gift. In the US you are allowed to give away a certain amount of money tax free each year. There is complicated setup (as is typical with pyramid schemes), of how much money you need to send who, and who is going to send you money.
Not only are you sending cash through the mail, but the whole process is dependent on ‘the greater fool theory', meaning the only way you can get money from this, is by finding someone dumber than you. I don't everyone who participates in these schemes is dumb, I only mean to use this phrase to demonstrate how pyramid schemes work. You only make money by convincing other people to join.
There are tons of videos on YouTube from people who have supposedly made ‘big money' by participating in cash gifting. It's obvious these are one time attempts by amateur users because the video quality is low, they usually have less than 10 videos uploaded to their account, and there is nothing very convincing about someone saying, “Yeah, it's true. You can make lots of money. Look at mine.”
Multi-Level Marketing or Network Marketing
Again, we have another pyramid scheme which tries to find another loophole in the law books. By selling products alongside entrance into the pyramid network, they are technically a business. But do not be fooled. The money making opportunity lies not in the sale of products, but the sale of membership to the network.
And thus, it's still a pyramid scheme. In fact, here's the definition from Wikipedia
A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public.
MLM and network marketing programs are often hard to spot because they usually do not come out and say, “Hey, join our MLM group and sell MLM to other people.”
In fact, one of the best ways to spot an MLM program is to first do your due diligence, research the company, and if you are still unsure how you will actually make money, it is probably MLM.
They will say things like, “Start earning today”, “Earn X thousands of dollars every day from home”, “Easy to do, and no experience required”, or “100% commissions”. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Another dead giveaway is if they have tiered commission structures, meaning you make X amount of money from level 1 referrals, and Y amount of money from the people that level X refers.
Also, listen for key words like “downline” (the people in your network), “recruit“, “network“, “team“, “inner circle“, “fast track“, “seminar“, “guaranteed“, and other positive, yet vague sounding words like “wealth“, “empower“, “riches“, “organo“, “profit“, and “easy“.
Unfortunately, with the anonymity and power of the internet, MLM has taken off, and you can see their advertisements all over YouTube, in Google search results, in comments on Facebook and Google+, as well as linked from thousands upon thousand of tweets every day.
Remember, the power of making money in an MLM scheme lies in recruiting people, and what better way to reach millions of people than by leveraging the internet.
Guru Internet Marketing Schemes
I am an internet marketer, so it's a shame I have to associate my own business with these types of people, but do not be fooled! What I do and what these guys do are two very different things!
Internet marketing is a broad term, that basically means you market something on the internet. There are tons of people that do this, some, individual business owners promoting other companies, some, big companies leveraging the internet as part of a larger marketing strategy, and many in between.
It's no secret that you can make money online.
But these ‘gurus', as they are so famously called on the internet, take advantage of the situation by promising the impossible.
In a nutshell, they tell you that it's easy to make money, you can start making money quickly, you need no prior experience to do it, and they're offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is very misleading, and while I can't say that all of them are scams, I can say that many of them give visitors false impressions of what it's like to start an online business.
In my reviews of make money online products on YouTube I've come across quite a few of these types of products, and here are some surefire ways to identify a misleading money making product.
The product or person…
- Says it's easy
- Says it's fast
- Says he's a guru
- Says he's not a guru
- Says he's sharing a secret with you
- Say it's a 1 time opportunity, and you can never see this page again
- Says there are a limited number of spots
- Says you only have X time period to sign up (usually a few hours)
- Offers you a discount when you try to close the browser window
- Offers you bonus guides worth X amount of dollars
- Tells you his product is work $1000+ dollars, but is offering it for $100 or less
They will also try so, so hard to get your email address. By giving them your email address, you are signing up for their list as a potential client or customer. Be careful which lists you sign up for, sometimes marketers trade lists, meaning you could unsubscribe from one, but other unwanted solicitations may appear in your inbox in the future.
Some of these products are based on systems that actually work. Some might actually teach you how to make money or start a business. However, many of them are misleading in the fact that they say it's fast, easy, automated, and requires no work to get residual income from these systems.
Paid Online Surveys
Though some survey companies pay out, paid online surveys is probably not worth your time. The reasons are many. First off, you have to sort through tons of scammy sites to find real survey companies. It's pretty much impossible to figure out which is which, because many of the people that do reviews about these places write fake reviews to get commissions for each membership they sell.
Even if you find a legit company, you can expect to get paid pennies for hours of your work. Remember that not all survey companies pay cash! Many of them only pay you with gift cards, or with rewards points that can be used for drawings or other prizes. If you think that you will be able to find a good schedule and grind out a few surveys each day to clear a couple hundred bucks a month, you are mistaken. Many times, if you can actually make it to a payout threshold, you will have worked for $2-$3 per hour.
And lastly, many of these survey companies have site issues, as well as restrictions on who can/can't use their website. You may find out right before payday that they don't send money to your country! I've had several people tell me that they complete a survey, the site crashes, and they receive no credit for their work. This not only reduces your pay rate per hour, but it's extremely frustrating.
Get Paid To Test/Buy Products
Another type of work that seems legit, but rarely works out to be so. The idea behind this one is that companies will pay you to test their products. It's not as simple as having Toys R Us sending you their brand new shipment of Power Rangers and you reporting back how much fun you did (or didn't) have.
The most obvious issue here is that many of these trials actually require that you pay money. Yes, you will be paying for stuff in order to make money. Even the free ones require that you submit a credit card number. It's usually possible to cancel the subscription or payment before your free trial ends, but there are issues with that.
Let's say you buy 5 products per day, times 20 days in a month. That 100 cancellations you have to organize, all staggered across the next 30 days. If you are planning on doing this day in, day out as a way to make consistent money, can you imagine how many products and services you'll have to remember to cancel?
If you don't, you get charged! And remember you are making a few dollars on each trial. One missed subscription of $29.99 per year and you are now back to $0 in your account, and you have just had a product sent to your house that you don't want.
The other issue with these sites is that they often have complicated systems of payment, often resulting in not getting any money at all. You have to learn special code words like “go green” and collect “game points” to cash out dollars. This is probably done to confuse members so they focus on earning lots of “points”, instead of realizing that they are working for a couple buck per hour.
To make things worse, many of these companies have incentives to sell memberships, so a lot of the positive reviews you see out there are actually advertisements.
Is One More Cup of Coffee a Scam?
I often receive criticism of my website for the product reviews that I do (note: these are often guys that are upset I'm exposing flaws in a product they are promoting). People are angry that 90% of the reviews I do are negative, and that I have a few main products that I promote. I can't help it if 90% of what's out there is complete trash!
Regardless, I understand where they are coming from. They think that my “scheme” is that I just write negative reviews in order to direct people to products I make a commission from. Fair enough. But please consider these points first.
- I buy the products I review. After 100+ reviews, I think I know what I'm talking about.
- I could make much more money with my site if I wrote all positive reviews
- Of course I promote products I like. Duh.
- It's my website. It's my opinion. I write things how I see it. Isn't that what blogging is about?
You are welcome to make your own choice on whether or not you think the advice I offer on this site is legit. I always recommend that people do their due diligence with whoever they follow, and that includes me. But I can't please everyone. Even some of the most popular companies and products in the world have their fanboys and haters. I always try to be as open and honest with my readers, and I respond to all comments and emails quickly, and courteously.You are welcome to question any of my advice or point out errors in my reviews, and I'm happy to discuss.
After all this talk about scams, I'm sure you guard is up and are very unsure of how to move forward. Making money online IS POSSIBLE. I do it. There are many ways to do it, and I teach just a few of them. Regardless of which path you follow, it takes consistent work over time, and a willingness to learn new things. It will take some failures before you can find true success.
It's easy to get distracted by promises of fast cash and easy riches. Heck, I am just reviewing these products, not even interested in buying, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, I wonder if I really could make money so easily.”. These are professional marketers, who have designed their advertising to push you emotional buttons.
But remember, there is no such thing as easy money. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
So if you have decided that you can make at least a 6 month commitment to start internet marketing, and have prepared yourself for the possibility of dedicating one hour every day for a year or two while you learn the basics and grow into a successful, profitable business, then I suggest you get started with my 5 Day Affiliate Marketing Introduction Course (it's free). I show you how I got started just a few years ago, and how you can follow the same steps I did.
You'll receive and email each day. Inside the email there will be an introduction to the topic of the day, a link to an extended lesson, and a video with my <joke>beautiful face</joke> explaining in more details what you'll be doing to get your business started.
You can also check out the place where I learned how to start my online business, and learn why I recommend them for just about everyone.
Tell Us Your Story
Have you been taken in by a scam and want to help others? Let me know in the comments below. Remember, you'll be saving others time, money, and disappointment.
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